It was a lovely summer evening in bustling Beijing and Jack was leaving the LightInTheBox offices to meet Carole. She was a beautiful Belgian girl whom he’d met in Vics, a popular night spot hip with the haves and reviled by the have-nots.
It was a clichéd first encounter; their eyes met across a crowded room and Jack found himself being drawn to Carole’s enchanting gaze like a moth to flame. “Can I buy you a drink?” Jack asked, comfortable with his sudden bravado – for as Jack was a quiet man at work, he was never a slouch with the ladies.
With a twinkle in her eye Carole smiled “Oh, I don’t see why not…” her voice trailed off on the cool evening air as she averted Jack’s seductive eyes. “I’ll have a mojito.” They chatted about simple things, agreeing not to mention the tedious and inglorious realm of the workplace. Their thoughts wound down an enchanted road; from fine dining to amusing tales from their childhoods. They laughed quietly together, chatting until the early hours and before parting, they had arranged their first date. They would meet again on Friday and Friday had arrived.
“Tonight’s the night“, Jack thought, combing his hair back as he walked the busy street. He thought of Carole waiting for him at Scarlett, the secluded and romantic wine bar and hurried to walk faster. He hoped that they click over canapés and French wine… and perhaps take this encounter a little further.
Jack approached his destination and checked his wrist for the time. He was early, as always, thanks to his Genome LED watch which he’d set 15 minutes fast. It was a trick he’d picked up from his superstitious aunt, who mistakenly believed (and taught) that tardiness was one of the 7 deadly sins.
Jack entered Scarlett and as he checked his reservation with the hostess, he spotted a familiar and unpleasant face. Jack caught a chill. It was James, a dangerous man, and one Jack had hoped he’d never again encounter. James was sitting at a table alone, Othello tablet in hand and looking dapper in a black tux. “Has he seen me?” Jack thought, rubbing a worried thumb across his teeth. Nervous, Jack turned and hastily made his way up the black spiral staircase to the roof, praying that he had not been seen.
Once on the roof, Jack breathed a little relief, his heart resuming its normal hollow thud. He placed the single red rose he had bought for Carole on the table in front of him, ordered a bottle of Bordeaux from the waiter and with a sense of smugness knew the wine would have time to breath before his date arrived. It was all set.
Some time passed and as Jack swirled wine in his glass, he grew a little restless – when suddenly a waft of lovely perfume caught his nose across the terrace. Looking up, Jack saw Carole gliding towards him in a lovely black outfit. He couldn’t believe how amazing she looked. Her high-heels , Pleat Rose clutch and gold bracelets accented her natural beauty, giving her the aura of a movie star. “She’s special,” Jack thought. “She’s got something… different.”
Jack stood up as Carole reached the table. Like a true gentleman he kissed her on the cheek, presented her with the rose and offered her a chair. As they sat down the waiter appeared to pour the wine. They stared into each other’s eyes, as the sun set over the city in a comfortable silence. They barely spoke, happy to enjoy the moment. They both felt as if they’d known each other for years…
Suddenly Jack’s Versio Sunrise phone rang, awakening the lovers from their trance. He looked down at the call display. It was Luisa calling. Jack’s wife.
To Be Continued…